Chautauqua is known for its famous speakers, celebrity performances and audience pedigree. When selecting songs for Sunday’s Sacred Song Service, Josh Stafford is taking quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart and other notable past Chautauqua speakers.
Stafford, director of sacred music and Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist, plans to open Week Three by celebrating the human spirit at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 10, in the Amphitheater. He said he has received positive feedback for the last two services.
“I’ve gotten some really good feedback on how interconnected (Sacred Song Services have) felt,” Stafford said, “(that) the service has felt really well-stitched together.”
As with all Sacred Song Services, the Chautauqua Choir will start with “Day is Dying in the West,” followed by multiple readings of Scripture and texts Stafford put together.
Following the theme of Sacred Song Service for Week Three, “Celebrating the Human Spirit,” Stafford chose a quote from renowned American cellist Yo-Yo Ma:
“As you begin to realize that every different type of music, everybody’s individual music, has its own rhythm, life, language and heritage, you realize how life changes and you learn how to be more open and adaptive to what is around us.”
Some hymns included in the service are “Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee” with words by Henry van Dyke and music by Beethoven and “Abide with me” by William Henry Monk.
One of Stafford’s goals he set at the end of the 2021 season was to have the full choir back, and while it isn’t at full, pre-COVID-19 numbers, he is still satisfied with the large number of people donning the robes and singing from the choir loft.
“I think in just two weeks time, they’ve really done a lot of great work, are sounding really good and I’m quite pleased with that,” Stafford said.
The Chautauqua Choir is made up of community members, who don’t have to commit for more than a week. People interested need to have choir experience and be able to read music.
“The Chautauqua Choir is a volunteer choir,” Stafford said. “We would love to have new people join us. It’s post-COVID (and) this is really a time of rebuilding. I think it’s a great time for people who have thought about joining the choir but never taken that plunge to give it a shot.”